Comprising over 70% of the Earth’s surface, water is surely the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet. Without the evidently inestimable compound comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, life on Earth would be non-existent: it is necessary for everything on our planet to grow and prosper. Although we as humans realise this fact, we neglect it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Subsequently, we are slowly but surely destroying our planet to the point where organisms are perishing at a very alarming rate.
Water pollution occurs when a body of water is adversely affected due to the supplement of large quantities of materials to the water. When it is inappropriate for its intended use, water is considered polluted. There are two types of water pollutants: point source and nonpoint source. Point sources of pollution occur when harmful substances are emitted straight into a body of water. The Exxon Valdez oil spill best shows up a point source water pollution. A nonpoint source creates pollutants indirectly through environmental changes.
An instance of this type of water pollution is when fertilizer from a field is transformed into a stream by rain, in the form of run-off which in turn influences aquatic life. Nonpoint sources are much more difficult to control. Pollution arising from nonpoint sources answers for a majority of the contaminants in streams and lakes. Many causes of pollution combining sewage and fertilizers include nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates. In big quantities, nutrients over stimulate the growth of aquatic plants and algae.
Excessive growth of these types of organisms eventually clogs our waterways, use up dissolved oxygen as they decompose, and blockade light to deeper waters. This, in turn, becomes very harmful to aquatic organisms as it affects the respiration ability or fish and other invertebrates that live in water. Oil pollution is an increasing problem, particularly destroying to coastal wildlife. Small amounts of oil spread rapidly across long distances to form deadly oil slicks. This fact alarmed many people.
For example, demonstrators with “oil-covered” plastic animals protest a potential drilling project in Key Largo, Florida. Whether or not casual spills occur during the project, its affect on the delicate marine ecosystem of the coral reefs could be destructive. To clean up a California beach after an oil tanker spill workers use special nets. Tanker spills are a growing environmental problem because once oil has spilled, it is virtually unreal to completely remove or control it.
Water courses are heavily polluted by fertilizers and pesticides, transcending admissible levels by a factor of 5 – 10. Only 13 % of domestic and industrial sewage is treated prior to discharges into the river and in many country areas only dirty water is available for domestic needs. The worst affected are Batumi, Poti and Sokhumi. Draining the wetlands in this region for agricultural purposes has overburdened the area with these pollutants.
About 3337 mill. cub.m of water resources were abstracted in Georgia in 1991 for industrial, communal and other uses. Out of this quantity, 2867 mill. cub. m had been used, combining 888 mill. cub. m in the industry, about 1145 mill. cub. m were released into water bodies, of which 90. 5 mill. cub. m has not been treated at all and 21. 4 mill. cub. m treated only partly. As a result more than 100 thousand tonnes of pollutants were released into the environment. The main sources of pollution are the metallurgy, coal mining, chemical industry and energy sector.
Georgia releases a considerable volume of untreated domestic and industrial waste into the Black Sea via its rivers and estuaries. Refining wastes and spills from oil storage terminals discharge straight into the Black Sea at Batumi where coastal soils and marine sediments are polluted mainly with heavy oil components. Clearly, the problems connected with water pollution have the capabilities to disrupt life on our planet to a great size. Congress has passed laws to try to combat water pollution thus recognising the fact that water pollution is, really, a serious issue.
But the government alone cannot resolve the whole problem. It is ultimately up to us, to be knowledgeable, responsible and involved when it comes to the problems we face with our water. As we steer into the 21st century, awareness and education will most certainly continue to be the two most significant ways to prevent water pollution. If appropriate measures are not taken and water pollution continues, life on earth will suffer severely.
Terry, L. A. “Water Pollution” ENVIRON. LAW PRACT. , vol. 4, no. 1, 1996.